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  1. Office of Criminal Investigations Most Wanted Fugitives

Illinois Nurse Charged With Tampering With Morphine Prescribed to Patient

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Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney's Office
Northern District of Illinois

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, December 21, 2023

CHICAGO - An Illinois nurse removed liquid morphine prescribed to a patient and diluted it with another liquid, knowing the diluted substance would be dispensed to the patient, according to a federal indictment unsealed today in U.S. District Court in Chicago.

NICKOLE BUTLER was employed as a registered nurse at a skilled nursing facility. The indictment alleges that Butler tampered with the liquid morphine on May 16, 2021, with reckless disregard and extreme indifference for the risk that the patient would be placed in danger of bodily injury.

Butler, 40, of Byron, Ill., is charged with one count of tampering with a consumer product. She pleaded not guilty today during her arraignment in federal court in Chicago.

The indictment was announced by Morris Pasqual, Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and Ronne Malham, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Office of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations. Substantial assistance was provided by the Illinois State Police and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General. The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Misty N. Wright.

“Patients deserve to have confidence that they are receiving the legitimately prescribed medication and not a diluted substance,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Pasqual. “Health care practitioners who illicitly tamper with prescription drugs will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

“U.S. consumers rely on the FDA to oversee the prescription drug supply chain and ensure that their medicines are safe and effective,” said FDA SAC Malham. “When that supply chain is breached, the public’s health is put at risk. We will continue to pursue and bring to justice those who jeopardize consumers’ trust in their medications.”

The public is reminded that an indictment is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The charge in the indictment carries a maximum sentence of ten years in federal prison. If convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal sentencing statutes and the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.
 

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